Autumn is a great time to visit Budapest – the city dresses in amazing auburn colours, life slows down and the temperature drops from the thirties to something more bearable, with still enough sun-splashed days to enjoy. There are also endless amazing attractions to discover before winter sets in. Here's our pick of the bunch.
Admire paintings by Rubens and other Flemish artists
At the end of October, the exhibition Rubens and the Golden Age of Flemish Painting opens at Budapest's Museum of Fine Arts, presenting a total of 120 works of art, ten by Van Dyck and 30 by Rubens himself. Curated from 50 prestigious collections around the world, including the Hermitage, the Prado and London’s National Gallery, the exhibition will run until February 2020.
Binge on chimney cake
Autumn’s most aromatic food festival celebrates Hungary’s traditional sugar-dusted pastry, chimney cake, between 11-13 October at the City Park. Sprinkled with cinnamon, cocoa, walnut, coconut, vanilla and everything sweet, various versions of this tasty treat will be here for you to sample, while the festival also presents the age-old methods of preparing chimney cake from baking it over hot coal to frying it in oil. This is family-friendly event is complete with concerts and fun for kids. More details (in Hungarian)
Browse friendly farmer's markets
Autumn weekends are perfect for getting up early to gather your breakfast ingredients fresh from a farmer's market. Budapest has some really nice ones at cool locations such as the Szimpla and Élesztőház ruin pubs that host markets on Sundays, or the charming Hungarian peasant house-style Czakó Kert, with a friendly market and breakfast on Saturdays.
Celebrate Oktoberfest in Budapest
The Hungarian version of the world’s biggest brew festival, Oktoberfest, this year takes place at central Erzsébet tér between 4-5 October. Guests can enjoy a gluttonous Bavarian-style blow-out with barrels of beer, savoury sausages, grilled chicken, roasted pork trotters, Bavarian mini sausages and pretzels, and other meaty morsels, while barmaids in traditional garb serve Steins. Alongside countless kinds of spectacular suds from Hungarian and international breweries, a little yodelayheehoo is generally provided by live music late into the night.
Dive into the world of the Surrealists
Whether you’re a huge fan of Dalí and the Surrealists, or all that springs to mind when you hear about the genre is The Persistence of Memory, this large-scale exhibition is a must-see. The exhibition, The Surrealist Movement from Magritte to Dalí – Crisis and Rebirth in 1929 is currently on view at the Hungarian National Gallery until 20 October. Pivoting around the watershed year of 1929, this major show is being held in conjunction with the Centre Pompidou in Paris, who provided many of the featured pieces. All tolled, nearly 120 works of art, paintings, graphics, sculptures, photographs, films and documents are on display. Artworks by Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, Joan Miró, Yves Tanguy, René Magritte, Pablo Picasso and Francis Picabia, as well as Man Ray and Brassaï, all feature.
Enjoy Design Week
From 4 to 13 October, Budapest turns into a gigantic showroom of Magyar-made fashion, with furniture, artworks, architecture and much more, all on display at various venues citywide, from major museums down to hidden ateliers. Numerous events await art aficionados at what is autumn’s biggest design festival, including exhibition openings, kid’s activities, workshops and all kinds of creative get-togethers. One of the most popular attractions each year is when various art studios hold open days, giving guests a glimpse into the tips and tricks of making their products.
Experience Italian culture at Müpa's Bridging Europe event
An annual events series organised by the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Müpa, Bridging Europe is now being staged for the seventh time, between 18 and 27 September. The idea is to showcase works from a certain country with high cultural values, from music to fine arts to literature. As Italy is the focus this year, Müpa will host renowned performers in the pizzica folk tradition, such as singer/tambourinist Rachele Andrioli, accordionist Rocco Nigro and legendary mandolin player Mimmo Epifani. Literarium Extra will present works by well known Italian authors as interpreted by famous actors while jazz quartet Cinema Italia will play a selection of revered tunes by Ennio Morricone and Nino Rota.
Explore contemporary creativity at Art Market Budapest
Set up across a maze of viewing spaces, Central Europe’s premier showcase for contemporary art is held from 3-6 October at the Millenáris Park. Exhibitors from over 40 countries come together to showcase and sell a vast collection of contemporary artworks, paintings, sculptures, installations and photographs. An entire section and exhibition hall will be dedicated to the ever-evolving art of photography, providing a platform for one of the biggest international photo fairs in the region. Several affiliated events, performances, guided tours and concerts, also await guests.
Get your daily dose of art at CAFe Budapest
Budapest’s annual cross-disciplinary arts festival, CAFe Budapest takes place between 4-20 October at various venues citywide. A wide variety of cutting-edge performances, concerts of many genres, contemporary-circus shows, visual art exhibitions, opera and theatre performances, and dance productions will be given, along with photography displays and countless other aesthetic attractions. These exciting events will be held at spectacular venues such as the Palace of Arts, the Franz Liszt Music Academy, the Várkert Bazaar, the Vigadó, and at downtown locations such as the Budapest Music Center, Akvárium Klub and Bálna Budapest.
Go beyond Budapest
Autumn is the perfect time to enjoy a refreshing hike surrounded by pristine nature, and luckily you don’t even have to head too far out of town for a miniature excursion. Found in the Buda Hills, Anna-rét (Anna Meadow) is an easily accessible clearing between the Normafa parkland and the upper station of the Zugliget Chairlift, and it’s an ideal spot for those who seek tranquillity in a panoramic setting. Found along the hilly ridge of Buda’s District XII, the fascinating rocky formation of Ördög-orom is one of the most pleasant excursion spots in the city, complete with a six-stop educational path and plenty of panoramic stopovers overlooking Széchenyi Hill, Sas Hill and the Tétényi plateau. Those who want to head out to nature on the city’s Pest side can embark on a short train ride to Merzse Marshland, where abundant wildlife awaits hikers with plenty of opportunities to spot foxes, deer or various birds, while this rural region is also perfect for Nordic walking, cycling or a romantic getaway.
Honour Hungary’s National Holiday
On 23 October, Hungarians commemorate the 1956 Revolution against Soviet occupation. In Budapest, an official flag-raising ceremony, political speeches and military processions take place on Kossuth Lajos tér by Parliament, while a number of cultural events are held nationwide. Normally on this day, the House of Terror Museum and Parliament grant free admission to visitors all day, and nostalgic trams serve busy line 6. If you’d like to know more about the Uprising or see where you can honour it, check out this article. More details will be available closer to the date here.
Indulge yourself in sweet seductions
13-15 September will most certainly be the sweetest weekend of the autumn in Budapest, as a selection of international and local hand-crafted confections, chocolates, cakes, ice creams and other sweet seductions tempt your taste buds. The country’s best pastry chefs and confectioners give demonstrations and after night falls, delightful jazz and classical performances, and glasses of fine wine, elevate the atmosphere. The icing on the cake is the special setting, as the venue is Szent István tér, spread out before beautiful St Stephen’s Basilica. And to increase anticipation, entry to this festival is free… Sweet! More details (Hungarian-only)
Meet Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson
Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson
appears at the Budapest Congress Centre on 2 November with his two-hour, one-man show based on his 2017 best-selling biography What Does that Button Do? Dickinson illustrates its content with pictures and satirical comments, before answering questions from the audience at this two-part event. Tickets are available here.
Pump up your adrenaline at the National Gallop
Budapest’s scenic Heroes’ Square turns into a racecourse during 19-20 October, evoking the atmosphere of bygone times. Young jockeys dress up as Hungarian hussars on horseback, while archers, cavalrymen and other historic Hungarian figures entertain crowds. Discover Hungarian equestrian traditions during this two-day extravaganza, and cheer as horses and riders compete for the grand prize and national glory.
Run, boy, run!
Autumn is a great time to start running regularly. In Budapest, there are several nice spots, such as Margaret Island, the Bottomless Lake and the City Park, although the proposed one at serene Kerepesi Cemetery seems to have stirred up too much controversy to open. By contrast, the rubberised track on Normafa, up in the Buda hills, is ideal for a panoramic jog.
See Bryan Adams for free
On 28 September, Bryan Adams will take the stage for a free concert at Budapest’s showpiece Heroes’ Square. The occasion is the 20th birthday of the largest gambling service provider in Hungary, Szerencsejáték Zrt. A temporary stage will be set up on the monumental square, where the Canadian rock star and popular Hungarian band Wellhello take the spotlight. The concerts will be free to see. More details (in Hungarian)
Shake it at the Telekom Electronic Beats Festival
The Telekom Electronic Beats Festival starts the autumn clubbing season at downtown Akvárium Klub between 19-21 September. Prominent Hungarian and international dance masters are due to appear, including Modeselektor, Sevdaliza, Robert Dietz, Jennifer Cardini and Nathan Micay. Alongside parties, workshops, films and a lifestyle market are also scheduled.
Soak in Budapest's splendid thermal baths
When the weather gets a bit chilly, immersing yourself into healing hot waters feels really special. Budapest has several splendid thermal baths that are also must-see sights. Colourful Zsolnay porcelain-tiled Gellért or ornate, outdoorsy Széchenyi are your best bets, but the Rudas Baths with its rooftop hot tub or quiet and secluded Veli Bej are also great options.
Take a trip down memory lane on a nostalgia tram
Until October, you can travel on cool old-school vehicles in Budapest every weekend. On Saturdays, a vintage tram serves Budapest's heritage tram 2 line that offers the prettiest panorama travelling along the Danube on the Pest side. On Sundays, tram 19, running alongside the river on the Buda side, turns old-school. Also on Sundays, an open cabrio bus serves the route of bus 109.
Wander through the World Press Photo Exhibition